Plans in motion to meet challenges of expanding early learning and childcare scheme

Published: Thursday, 27th November 2014

We have successfully ensured the delivery of 600 hours of free early learning and childcare to all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds, and are preparing for the scheme's extension.

As part of this work, and to ensure flexibility of delivery to suit parents, we are creating Early Years Centres and will launch a consultation with parents in early 2015 on the availability and flexibility of places across the region.

Four Early Years Centres are being delivered across the Scottish Borders in partnership with NHS Borders and will provide advice, support and activities for parents and families.

The Langlee centre was officially opened earlier this month (pictured) and work is currently ongoing at Philiphaugh Community School to create a centre there. Work in Burnfoot, Hawick will start shortly and we are currently exploring potential locations for a centre in Eyemouth.

Extended scheme

From August this year all two-year-olds who are looked after, in a kinship care order or subject to a guardianship order were entitled to 600 hours of early learning and childcare, and from this October all two-year-olds with families on certain benefits also became entitled to the same.

This will be extended next August, when two-year-olds in families currently entitled to free school meals will also be eligible for 600 hours of free early learning and childcare.

The Scottish Government has fully funded the scheme. In the current financial year this has totalled £3.2million in the Scottish Borders, with a further £3m coming in 2015/16. More funding will also be made available in 2016/17.

Councillor Sandy Aitchison, SBC Executive Member for Education

“There are strong links between the availability of affordable and accessible early learning and childcare and the employment opportunities parents, particularly mothers, can access, so I am pleased we have made such good progress on delivering in line with the Scottish Government’s legislation to date.

“High quality early learning and childcare makes a significant impact on the critical years of a child’s development and promotes long term health and wellbeing, and we are pushing ahead with further improvements to ensure that when the scheme is expanded again next year everything is in place.”

Additional places

In addition to places available through private and voluntary groups, provision of early learning and childcare has been created within Trinity, Howdenburn, Balmoral and Edenside primary schools, and the spaces at the Early Years Centres will create further capacity.

The Scottish Childminding Association are also providing partnership support to help ensure high quality childminders are available in the Borders to help deliver the necessary early learning and childcare.

A review of our early learning and childcare staffing will be carried out to ensure staff teams across the service are appropriate to meet the needs of two to four-year-olds.

More information

Anyone who thinks they are eligible for the scheme can contact our Early Years Team on 01835 824000 or visit our website for more information and to apply.

Follow Early Years Centres on Facebook.